LoosenArt Mag / Gallery

Silent Cities

Posted on October 05 2020

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Author S Colombo
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Silent Cities │ 17th September - 14th October 2020
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The group show Silent Cities, organised by Loosenart and open at the Spazio Millepiani in Rome from September, 17 to October, 14 is a part of WEFO 2020 (WEekend FOtografici). In a kind of predictive way, the photographic exhibition proposes a series of urban sceneries that, until recently, we would have found unusual. Today, instead, they appear as common fragments we are definitely accustomed to. Because of that, an introduction here is necessary, or even better an explanation capable of highlighting the sudden change of perspective we are experiencing in our lives and in the whole world.
Since ancient times, cities have been perceived as lively centres mostly devoted to business and social life, in contrast to the isolated and silent peripheries. During the 20th century, this diversity grew even more, letting the city become a bustling meeting place, where there is no sleep but a lot of work and fun. Day and night, all year round.

This is the impression we have when we think about big urban centres, partly because of our personal experiences and partly due to the influence coming from the imagery of cinema that depicts them as energetic and appealing sites. The journey starts from Fritz Lang’s Metropolis and Walter Ruttman’s Berlin: Symphony of a Metropolis (1927) and then continues throughout time. From Woody Allen’s Manhattan (1979) to Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation (2003).
In this noisy confusion, silence bursts (or… used to) into town only when it comes to extraordinary episodes, mainly associated with catastrophes, like the apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic scenes presented in 28 Days Later (2002) and I am Legend (2007), or darkness, as shown in Batman’s Gotham City.
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Anastasia Kurenkova, View from the Window, 2020  Buy it
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Ivan Charin, Houses Near the Sea, 2020  Buy it
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In real life, silence is generally paired with a metropolitan scenario just in exceptional cases such as post-natural disasters situations, such as tsunamis and earthquakes. And then, suddenly, the pandemic mixed things up, letting us rethink life as we knew it. For all these reasons, the exhibition Silent Cities mirrors a reality that, not so long ago, we would have considered as totally surrealistic. The pictures on show reflect on the unusual association between silence and city, revolving around four main variables. Cities are silent when observed from afar, from above, from a singular point of view. And this is even more true once the observation point is situated within a natural environment. The distance is the strength of these shots emphasizing still life fragments of buildings displayed in their remoteness. The observer is external and irrelevant, neither involved in the occurrences happening “on the other side” nor overwhelmed by the exhausting urban routine.

Silence lies where incompleteness is predominant, predating the souls of unfinished fabrics that stare at us from above, with their bare windows and unopened doors. Works that were great on paper but started to decay as soon as they were built, reminding us of the instability and uncertainty of life. Similarly, cities are silent when hosting abandoned sites. Without the human contribution they cannot survive, going towards a natural process of decline. Differently from all those unfinished places, abandoned locations have a million stories to tell, likewise secrets to hide and sorrow to defy. They represent a whole cycle that begins and ends, usually due to a brutal interruption.

Before the end, there is still one variable that it is worth considering: weather. Silence often occurs where a “blanket” covers and caresses cities’ streets, taking the noise away. If you take a walk on a foggy night, you see blurry shapes while you keep your ears open, trying to catch what has become invisible. Our steps echo, as we are the last human beings left on earth. Also, cities are silent when the snow comes, covering and softening every tiny detail surrounding us: the colours fade and the cars stop, letting the street become empty. Just the slow dance of snow is left. Nothing else.
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Mikhailov Victor, Old Shipyard, 2019  Buy it
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Ancuta Muresan, Napocalipsa, 2019  Buy it
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Elena Bolshakova, Isabelle Winardi, Gianluca Attoli
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Silent Cities Exhibition Catalogue │ Buy it
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